Data Governance - We do in fact sweat the small stuff...



In a recent posting, Seth Godin ponders the old school statement: "Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves". His comments are focused around running a business and he gestures that if you don't sweat the small stuff (like minor expenses) you'll be better off because you'll be focusing more on the big picture.
Mr. Godin probably hits a home run with his followup line in his intro where he says he's "pretty sure that if you watch the dollars, you don't have to worry so much about pennies". I strongly recommend reading Seth's blog as although his postings are very thought provocative.

So, how might you spin this for those of us who run "Data Governance" businesses? Well, I for one am someone who does in fact sweat the small stuff. In "Data Geek Land", each and every day when we stumble upon "small" data quality issues as they are typically just the tip of the iceberg and lead us to larger overarching data quality issues. On occasion this philosophy hasn't always proven to be the correct way to go (see this post from last month), but as an overall "theme" this rule of thumb has certainly served us well at my current shop. Perhaps this is because we have sooo many database records which could have data quality issues and we only have just over a year "invested" in our Data Governance program.

As our program and those of us within our program mature, I'd anticipate we at some point will need to in fact start watching the "dollars" and not the "pennies". We've started to build BI reporting capabilities on top of our Data Governance program and our Data Quality Metrics - perhaps this is a sign of the necessary maturity needed to shift from pennies to dollars? I guess time will tell if we're heading down the right path.


I used to work for a very large shop who was considered the "Coca-Cola" of their industry (we "called" our primary competitor "Pepsi"). From the view in my cubicle it seemed like only on occasion did we ever stop and take a look at what our other "smaller" competitors were doing (some people called them ankle biters). At the time I thought the company was crazy because these ankle biters were doing some pretty innovative stuff. Again, this anxiety was probably a sign of immaturity on my part as certainly these innovators were probably worth taking a peek at - but I should have been focusing on how to make sure all the restaurants weren't selling Pepsi instead of Coca-Cola.

With all this said and as Seth Godin surmises, as your Data Governance program (aka BUSINESS) matures, start focusing on the larger picture and moving away from the "onesie"/"twosie" transactional issues. Look for larger trends and innovations which can make promote your program much quicker then just "cleaning up a bunch of records". Don't forget about the "ankle biters", just don't put all your time and effort into them as sure enough they could in fact consume you and your staff's entire work week. The fact that we're becoming more "enlightened" (for lack of better terms) perhaps means we're taking a step into a different level within one of these "data quality maturity models"? One never really knows, does one...

Until next time...Rich

Comments

garniebolling said…
Rich, great article...

From our common background from "data geek land" I was always checking, verifying, and blocking because of the small stuff..

Now that we have grown, you are right, there are times we have to look beyond our cube... lift our heads at a meeting, and try to understand the views of our peers in the business, or systems, or (insert any department here).

Collaboration is key, but haggling over small items build walls between groups...

So everything you posted resinates well with me. Collaboration is key, and you know, it is neat to see the bigger picture... vs the 3 same walls of our old cubes :)

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